Manu Ginobli is returning to the San Antonio Spurs next year, and the fans in Texas have Gregg Popovich to thank for that.
It seemed like Manu Ginobli had played basketball for the last time when the San Antonio Spurs were swept by the Golden State Warriors this postseason, but the wily shooting guard still has a bit of fire left in him. Ginobli had a meeting with head coach Gregg Popovich shortly after the season ended, and the veteran realized that his team wanted him back. They would respect his decision either way, but they hoped he’d stay.
“He told me that he wanted me to continue and he needed me on the team,” Ginobili wrote in his column for the Argentinian publication La Nacion. “If he did not want me, it would have been easier for me.”
This will be Ginobili’s 16th season with the Spurs, and he has brought excitement, championships and craftiness to the NBA’s most reliable franchise over the last decade. He only averaged 7.5 points per contest last season, but he had a few playoff games that made the difference. He is also fantastic with his teammates, and his relationship with Patty Mills was part of the reason Ginobli returned as well.
“[Mills] is my link with the new generation,” Ginobili wrote. “My connection with him is very important. I think even he gave me a push (to come back).”
The Spurs are a team in transition right now. They have enough talent make a playoff run even without Manu on the roster, but it’s clear that the LaMarcus Aldridge experiment didn’t work out. The latest news about Kyrie Irving wishing for a trade will highlight the Spurs as a potential destination to be sure. Manu probably won’t take home another title for San Antonio, but winning four isn’t too shabby. Also, who could’ve ever predicted that he would be in the NBA this long? Not Ginobli.
“If 10 years ago someone was telling me, ‘You’re going to play until 40,’ ” Manu wrote, “I would have said he was crazy.”
It appears that Popovich desired one more year of insanity.